A ceasefire in Ukraine would be the first step, but it’s not enough, says German Foreign Minister
Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its military offensive in Ukraine will only be lifted if Moscow withdraws its troops from the neighboring country, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said.
In an interview with Bild on Sunday, Baerbock explained that “a ceasefire can only be a first stepwhen it comes to lifting sanctions.
“It is clear to us that the sanctions can only be lifted if Russia withdraws its troops,she said, adding that “peace on terms dictated by Russia” will not bring security to Ukraine or to Europe. “At worst, it would be an invitation to the next war – even closer to our borders.”
Baerbock said the Russian attack on Ukraine has “irretrievably broken” peace in Europe, and that “there is no turning backin the days before February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the “special military operation,despite previous assurances from his government that no attack on Ukraine was planned.
“We can never again rely solely on Putin’s promises“, Baerbock said. She added that the international community has a responsibility to ensure that Ukraine is strong enough to make its own decisions.
“It is Ukrainians who are dying in this war and who are threatened with oppression and tyranny under Russian occupation. No one has the right to dictate to them,” she says.
Since the launch of the military operation in Ukraine, the EU has approved five sanctions packages against Moscow, and is now considering the sixth. The restrictions, which apply to various sectors of the Russian economy, are seen by Moscow as “illicit” and “unjustified.”
Russia sent its troops to Ukraine in late February, after kyiv’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The Minsk Protocol negotiated by Germany and France was designed to give breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.